Dullas Alahapperuma: Former Scribe in Fray to Become Next Sri Lankan President
Posted on July 19th, 2022

By: Shankhyaneel Sarkar Courtesy News18

The former journalist, Dullas Alahapperuma, has the support of ex-foreign minister GL Peiris and received a fresh boost from opposition leader Sajitha Premadasa. Will this steer him to victory on Wednesday?

ullas Alahapperuma of the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) party is one of the candidates who is in the race to become the Sri Lankan president. The presidential election was triggered when Gotabaya Rajapaksa, of the same party, fled to Singapore in the face of public wrath.

The 63-year-old lawmaker is a former journalist who first served as a minister in 1994. Dullas served as minister of mass media and a cabinet spokesperson after winning from a provincial constituency in 1993 polls. He also served as provincial minister for cultural affairs.

Before joining active politics, Alahapperuma worked in radical Sinhala tabloids – Lakdiva and Lakmina.

He is married to singer Pradeepa Dharamadasa who once in an 2008 interview with Lankan news outlet Sunday Observer said that she prefers the journalist Alahapperuma rather than the politician Alahapperuma.

He has contested from southern Sri Lanka’s Matara since 2016. He was an ally of the Rajapaksas but resigned when Rajapaksa dissolved the cabinet in April when the protests against the government gained momentum.

Dullas Alahapperuma believes that Sri Lankans should not suffer anymore from the hardships that have surfaced due to the economic collapse the citizens find themselves in. He earlier said that the solutions for the problems Sri Lankans are facing should be addressed within ‘a democratic constitutional political framework.’

It was former foreign minister GL Peiris who pushed the SLPP to back Alahapperuma. The party initially decided to back Ranil Wickremesinghe of the United National Party (UNP) but there was resistance within the SLPP towards Wickremesinghe.

On Tuesday, Alahapperuma received another boost from opposition party Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB) leader Sajitha Premadasa who said he will withdraw his bid from the presidential elections and alongwith his party extend support to the politician from Matara.

Earlier, according to a report by CNN-News18, Premadasa acquired the support from 55 MPs of his own party and also was likely to gain more MPs to support his bid with the help of minority Tamil and Muslim MPs. This would take his tally of supporting MPs to 80, leaving him 33 short of the required mark.

The report also said that despite being in the cabinet Alahapperuma kept a healthy distance from the Rajapaksas which played a role in helping him earn the backing of party members.

It now remains to be seen if on Wednesday Dullas Alahapperuma can get those MPs by his side. With a section of the SLPP supporting him, steered by GL Peiris, there are chances he could finish the race and become the next president.

It, however, will depend if the parties can discipline their MPs to vote for one candidate.

The report by CNN-News18 also pointed out that Premadasa would likely be chosen as the next prime minister if Alahapperuma agrees to abolish ‘Executive Presidency’ if he wins on Wednesday.

(with inputs from Bloomberg and Sunday Observer)

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